Butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) as well as acetylcholinesterase has been suggested to be associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Lehmann et al. [1997: Hum Mol Genet 6:1933-1936] recently reported the synergism between the gene for the K variant of BChE (BCHE-K) and the epsilon4 allele of apolipoprotein E (APOE epsilon4) in late-onset confirmed AD with Caucasian subjects. The authors found that the allelic frequency of BCHE-K was 0.17 in 74 subjects with late-onset histopathologically diagnosed AD, which was higher than the frequencies in elderly control subjects (0.09) and in other dementias (0.07-0.10). The association of BCHE-K with late-onset AD was limited to carriers of APOE epsilon4, giving odds ratios of confirmed late-onset AD of 6.9-12.8. In the present study, we report the BCHE-K allelic frequencies in late-onset AD cases and in age-matched controls of the Korean population, which were 0.22 and 0.17, respectively. We could not find any association between BCHE-K and AD regardless of APOE epsilon4 carrier status. However, APOE epsilon4 clearly showed higher frequency in AD (0.33) than in elderly controls (0.09), giving an odds ratio of 5.2 (95% confidence interval, 2.7-10.0). Our results do not support the conclusion that BCHE-K, or a nearby gene on chromosome 3, acts in synergy with APOE epsilon4 as a susceptibility gene for late-onset AD, at least in the Korean population.